Sure as Autumn Flame


Post-Surgery: Recalling the accident

For the record, I have no memories of falling off my bicycle. This is similar to a car accident I was in nine years ago, when the left side of my head went into trauma because it was at the point of collision between two cars. One car accident, a trained guard-dog that lunged at me and left a cut in my left eye-lid, a knee operation to repair a torn ligament from a wakeboarding injury, and a brain surgery later – I’ve pretty much chalked up one too many trips to Accident & Emergency units the past 9 years.

I digressed. I flew off the bicycle I was travelling downslope on 12 days ago, after letting the other cyclists fly past me and attempting to slow down. The only thing I remembered – skirting a pothole and wobbling on the bike. I woke up hours later gagging on a breathing pipe stuck down my throat in hospital.

So this was what the rest told me after: I had a gash on the top of my head, some surface wounds on my knees, knuckles, hips and shoulders because I broke my fall with a roll (hence no broken limbs). I was very awake and even checked myself into hospital after the ambulance sent me to Changi General, right down to remembering my phone’s password when others needed to contact my mother.

I even said, “Please don’t tell my mum.” Who would have listened to me then, really?

My boss arrived at the hospital too, thank heavens. An immediate CT scan showed that I had a blood clot in my brain, which didn’t require immediate surgery because it might go away by itself. Alarm bells rang when I was asked what month it was, and I said “February” and I seemed to be falling asleep on the spot. Doctors decided to go ahead with surgery that night.

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So, they cut a C out of my skull to drain the blood clot, and supposedly stitched up my head wound. One of the bones in my ear is also dislodged slightly, due to an impact-related minor fracture between my ear bone and the base of my skull. 12 days later I learned that the wound wasn’t stitched up properly by a junior doctor who happened to be on duty that fateful night, so I sat through a re-stitching by another senior (and cuter) doctor.

It has been almost 2 weeks of strange sensations. This morning, the re-stitch was done with local anesthetic, which allowed me to feel the needle and thread going through and the skin of my head being pulled closer together…with no pain. The feeling of having 25 staples pulled of my skull could not be described otherwise because you literally feel the staples leaving your head. Weirdest feelings, ever.

Waking up after an operation to great girlfriends, a concerned boss and his girlfriend, and my panicked mum was great. Although it was a terrible blur now, for my memory is not exactly at its best right now.

Headaches have been part of everyday life. More interestingly, I am medically certified to disengage from stress, annoyances, grief, drama or anything that causes tension build-up in the brain. They get better day by day, except for throbbing sensations, or when the volume of my mum’s voice goes up a notch.

I can’t handle bright lights, loud noises, too many questions, nor turn around too fast. All these become too much for my senses to absorb, and the brain goes into an overdrive.

The right ear’s deaf from its internal fracture and blood clot, but it would heal over time. Once again, balancing on one leg becomes an issue, and I constantly hear a shrill in my right ear – the kind you hear when you are in a room too quiet.

Stretching becomes painful, because muscles tense up in accidents. I must have had taken half the impact on my butt and left shoulder, because the left shoulder and hamstring protest with each movement I make. It brings to memories the nine months my physio and trainers nursed me back from crutches to running and jumping post knee-surgery; it reminds me how amazing the body is, and the strength it moulds in your character.



To be Alive, not Dead.
May 25, 2013, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Life's fragile recollections, Two Cents' Worth | Tags: , , , , ,

To begin a new post with such a dramatic headline, I suppose it is uncalled for, but I am incredibly blessed to be sitting at home without any broken limbs now despite surviving a cycling accident. Many cyclists I know have suffered fractures, near-deaths, unfortunate deaths, terrible injuries from being on the road. I too, have joined the community whose members have been burned by the road – most of the time due to an unexpected turn of events that we can’t really say we could have prevented.

So, a downslope journey and an attempt at slowing down caused me to fly over the bicycle, land on my head and break my fall by rolling. I remember none of these, for they were told to me by those who were with me that night. A blood clot formed between my brain and my skull, hence the surgeon at Changi General Hospital that midnight called for a neurosurgery – one to cut open my skull and drain the blood clot – a successful operation that left my head half-shaven, stitched and staples closing a C-shaped scar.

One night in the Intensive Care Unit, another in High Dependency Care, and six nights in a hospital ward to monitor the effects of a post brain-surgery, muscle trauma and zero broken limbs. I thanked God how incredibly lucky I am to be alive, recovering well (save for the damn headaches), and dealing only with two open wounds, a temporary-deaf right ear and a healing head injury.

There were moments that got me frustrated for a second. Having no hair, a deaf ear, and not being able to deal with an overload of questions and problems were some of them.

But walking into my ward and life were the best friends and companions who reminded me that my life I hold so dearly was greatly based on the relationships I have with them. Colleagues, clients, friends from the cycling + outdoor + wakeboard + gym community, primary and secondary schools, some I knew through work but turned great friends came by. Truth be told I never expected so much care and concern from them, but they reminded me how fragile life is, and how much they matter to me.

Traumatic an incident it was, it also created a closer bond between my mum and I. It was a time she fully showed her love for me, and came to accept how much of an adrenaline junkie her only daughter is. It was a good break, for I’ve spent too little time with my mum when I placed work and past-relationships above her.

So here’s a month (or more) of a much-needed break. A time when my head actually tells me, “No, I can’t deal with this. You stop it.”

And every minute’s worth of thanking God, I am still alive. 🙂